It seems like everything is “as-a-service” these days. The rise of XaaS (Everything as a Service) is pushing more channel partners to convert traditional offerings to the service model. But, what all of these new “as a service” offerings seem to be missing is a focus on creating actual service. And it’s service — actual customer service — that is the revenue game changer. Delivering a positive customer experience based around high-value service at every stage of a customer’s lifecycle can help you retain your current customer list and acquire new clients through positive referrals.
Strong service starts with a customer-first mindset.
Traditional IT partners tend to let their technology do the talking. What I mean is, they are comfortable talking about the capabilities of their software, platforms or storage systems. What they are less comfortable with, in my experience, is listening.
Listening to your customer is critical for a service-focused company. Every leader believes their business, and its challenges, is unique. And guess what — they’re right! Take the time to get to know a prospect’s goals and pain points before pitching your solutions. Knowing their approach to business, company philosophy, weaknesses and advantages will help you position your offerings so they speak directly to the business owner in their own language.
Every channel is an opportunity for conversation.
How long does your website’s “friendly” chatbot run the conversation before a real person takes over? How many of your prospect emails are one-size-fits-all and sent automatically when a prospect performs a specific action or achieves a desired lead score? The answers are probably: Too long and too many, respectively. Here’s another one: Who answers a question asked on your Twitter feed? Anyone?
Marketing automation has made all of our lives easier, but it can also suck the life right out of your first interactions with a prospect. Automate, but never set it and forget it. Your business depends on service, and part of that is quality assurance of your own internal processes. Let marketing automation make the initial response, but have a system in place that enables a real live person to review the lead and provide a personal touchpoint fast.
Stay ahead of the curve to be the problem-solver for clients.
Complacency is death in the tech world. If you’re not researching new ways to solve challenges for your clients, guess what? Someone else is.
If you have a customer-first approach to your business, you can anticipate what your client’s next big hurdle might be. Get in front of those challenges and stay there, familiarizing yourself with emerging solutions you can add to your offering list.
Build a coalition of trusted partners to deliver service across an entire business.
You can’t do everything (even if it feels as though you already do). Leverage the resources and experience of business partners to give your clients a stellar experience. Actively seek out new partnerships with companies that can solve a client pain point or help a client reach a stated goal.
Create a team of service professionals.
Everyone on your team is part of your customer service department. Everyone. If an employee answers an email, picks up the phone, visits a client to deploy a solution, or writes the company blog, they are part of your customer-facing, customer-first team. Invest in their service capabilities.
How? Everyone within your organization should have customer service training. I’m not talking about basic telephone skills, although those are important and definitely seem to be lacking in certain business roles. I’m talking about service empowerment — teaching your team to say “Yes, and” rather than “No, but.”
If a customer comes with a problem, your people own that problem. Even if they can’t solve it. No more cold transfers. You see it through to the end, so your customers feels supported and heard the whole way through.
Can’t solve the problem? It happens. Sometimes people just need a place to vent. Listening with empathy is one of the most under-utilized service tools in business. Help your team learn how to listen with empathy and acknowledge a customer’s perspective, even if they can’t change the reality of the situation. Sometimes just being heard is enough to defuse an unhappy client.
Finally, look for opportunities where cross-training can help share the service burden across departments within your organization. This means everyone can help a customer.
Those “warm fuzzies” equal cold, hard revenue.
Happy customers that feel heard and understood are far more likely to stick around. And refer you to others. Over time, your brand becomes synonymous with high-quality, people-focused experiences. Now you’re the partner everyone wants to work with. Demand the best from your people, and organic growth will follow. Are you up for the challenge?